Article from Gibson.com: How the Original Alice Cooper Group Reigned with Dual SGs (3-20-2015)
Article describing the show from the ‘Town Hall’, in New York, on May 6, 1971.
Times. By Mike Jahns
On stage, the lead singer of a rock band, a young man named Alice Cooper, has taken off his silver jump suit to reveal black leotards and panty hose. Now he has a live boa constrictor and is wrapping it around his arm.
Alice wears female clothes and makeup, and has a great many female affectations. He also has a good many violent affectations, wherein lies much of the appeal of the classic freak show.
This particular performance took place recently in Town Hall. It was Alice Cooper’s first major concert in the city. Word was out ahead that Gerard Melanga, the Warhol superstar, was going to perform a whip dance with Alice. This didn’t work out, but it was enough to bring out New York Pop Society, that curious amalgam of rock people, writers, various weird off-off Broadway people, and the Warhol camp.
The group came out on stage wearing skin-tight silver jump suits. Later, Alice did a strip dance from the jumpsuit, revealing leotards slit to the navel, and the panty hose. The group began a long, loud and generally undistinguished set. They’re good, professional and capable of building excitement musically, but like so many hard rock bands, there is no particular melody and it all seems pretty much a background for the lead singer.
Alice, unlike most boys in girls’ clothing, is fairly unimpressive facially. In his more grotesque moments, he looks a bit like Tiny Tim. He is thin and slinks around stage, but does not slink well. He coyly exposed a shoulder and one breast and sang a few songs.
Then a woman in costume came onstage and led him off. She returned a few minutes later with Alice in a straitjacket. “They said they’d let me out of here,” he sang. Then he did another strip, removing the straitjacket.
He played with a hammer, a plastic rod, the boa constrictor; then some stagehands carried out an electric chair. Alice sat down and, at the crucial moment of electrocution, a lot of lights ringing the chair flashed on and off.
“We act as a mirror.” he said. “People see themselves through us. Many times they react violently because they don’t like what they see.”
HAND WRITTEN ANSWERS FOR A QUESTIONNAIRE THAT APPEARED IN ’16’ MAGAZINE. (1973)
Pretties For You review in AZ Republic
Arizona Republic – May 1969
‘Pretties for You’ latest album by Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper, as most avid music buffs in this locality are no doubt aware, is not a newly-arrived musical counterpart to Kate Smith or one of the Lennon Sisters. Nor is Alice Cooper even another Janis Joplin or Aretha Franklin.
Instead, Alice Cooper is the name of a former Phoenix based five-man rock group which is well on it’s way to achieving national prominence in the pop music field. This is being done through a string of so far well-received concert appearances (the latest one Friday night in the Coliseum with The Iron Butterfly), and by a first album, which is to be the main topic of today’s message.
A word or two of background information would be in order first. The group, originally known as The Spiders and then The Nazz (not to be confused with another currently popular group bearing the same name), originated it Tempe and soon got to be quite well known in the Phoenix area before splitting for Los Angeles.
It was around then that the band’s leader changed his name and the name of the group to Alice Cooper. The reason for the name change, according to a published interview with Alice by Johnny Neat, was that it had been discovered that the spirit of a girl named Alice Cooper who lived in the 17th century had taken over his body two years before. Alice, incidently, appears on the LP liner in a dress.
The other group members in addition to Alice are Neal Smith, drums and vocals; Dennis Dunaway bass guitar and vocals; Glen Buxton, lead guitar; and Mike Bruce, rhythm guitar, vocals, piano and organ.
Today, they are being promoted as “the epitome of psychedelic bands.” Their album is called “Pretties for You” and appears on the Straight label (STS 1051), distributed by Bizarre. In order to provide an alternative to all the social criticism and pessimism about the state of the world found in so much contemporary music, the music provided by Alice Cooper is supposed to convey a happy, bright, optimistic attitude about life.
Aside from novelty cuts like “Titanic Overture,” played on a massive concert organ, and “10 Minutes Before the Worm,” starring a squirrel or some other species of rodent nibbling contentedly away at something, the music, all original, is quite comfortably at home in the “heavy psychedelic” category, whatever that means.
The two best cuts are, in my opinion, “Levity Ball,” recorded live at the Cheetah, and “Fields of Regret.” Others include “Swing Low, Sweet Cheerio”, “Changing, Arranging”, “Living”, “Reflected”, and “Apple Bush”.
One hassle the album has encountered here has been the reluctance of certain local record merchants to display a certain segment of a cover painted by Ed Beardsley without a protective “censored” label. This is getting slightly ridiculous so far as this corner is concerned, considering the perfectly acceptable yet far more suggestive liner photos on some “good music” LP’s I could name.
ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE
Alice Cooper is a West Coast Zappa-sponsored group: two guitars, bass, drums and a vocalist who doubles on harmonica. Echoes of 1967 psychedelia in the oscillators and distorted guitars. Showing here the influence of the Mothers, here the first-wave San Francisco sound, there and almost everywhere the Beatles. But their overall texture and the flow of randomly-selected runs interspersed by electronic gimmicks place them closer to a certain rivulet in that deluge of pre-packaged groups which can be defined as marginal acidrock (references: recent debut albums by Aorta and Touch). Droning fuzz leads overlaid by droning (or is it whining?) Bee Gees vocal harmonies, and ponderous quasi-“baroque” organ wallowings a la Vanilla Fudge. Stereotyped guitar solos, a great many of which seem to derive directly (and not surprisingly) from Ray Davies’ great fuzztone explosions on early Kinks hits like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.” Apocalyptic raveups patented by the Yardbirds. Spoken “poetry” or “trippy” declamations muttered half-comprehensibly over “atonal” guitar gimmicks (dragging the pick across the strings below the bridge, etc.).
I’m not trying to denigrate Alice Cooper’s abilities: within the context of their self-imposed limitations, the album is listenable. But there is a way to do these things. I think simplicity and the imaginative use of the cliche are at the essence of rock; but the cliches have to hit you in a certain way, with a certain conviction and energy and timing, to get it on, to spark that certain internal combustion of good feeling and galvanized energies that lifts you out of your seat irresistibly and starts you dancing, balling, just whooping, or whatever — Black Pearl is the most stunning recent realization of this. And it is this that is lacking in Alice Cooper’s music. Everything falls where it should, there are none of the gross, ugly, idiotic juxtapositions of the totally incongruous found in much other studio-assembled art-rock. But neither is there any hint of life, spontaneity, joy, rage, or any kind of authentic passion or conviction. As such, Alice Cooper’s music is, for this reviewer at any rate, totally dispensable.
CREEM MAGAZINE – 1970
Leader Alice Cooper is chief instigator, vocalist and occasional harmonicist. Gifted with a sinewy, feminine leonity and a manically obsessive stage presence, Alice comes on with all the gentility of a sadistic laser beam. Bouncing and twitching around his liberated kingdom, he exudes an enchantingly fascinating combination of hostility and bewitchery. Using emphatically relevant stage props, such as a long, menacing phallic-like staff and a psychologically concept-laden portable door, Alice punctuates the aura created by the lyricism and music.
His cohorts in decibelic mayhem each effectively add to the totality. Lead guitarist Glen Buxton carries a razor-sharp axe which cuts in and out with melodic stiletto swiftness. Orgasmic bassist Dennis Dunaway gyrates and vibrates to his own substantial throb, at times seeming to become a personified spastic note. Piano, organ and rhythm guitar are interchangeable to Michael Bruce, whose versatility and especially fine texturic keyboardry lend substance to the many underlying layers of melody. And pendulum swaying, pulsating Neal Smith ties the musical fabric tightly with his wildly imaginative usage of any and every percussive device that come within grasp of his fluidly whirling tentacles.
Glendale Community College Newspaper
January 17, 1966
Click to Enlarge
One odd ‘news’ story there.
MORE Junk: This time from Phoenix ‘New Times’ [8/6/14] Article about Alice and his Phoenix roots.
“Despite spending much of his youth in his hometown of Detroit Rock City, the iconic shock rocker has been an Arizona boy for most of his life, starting off with his days at Cortez High School. It was there that Coop performed in a series of ‘’ever-changing bands with different friends’’ during his formative years in the rock biz, first with The Earwigs, then The Spiders, and finally Nazz. In the late ’60s, he decided to just call the act Alice Cooper, moved to L.A., and went on to worldwide fame and fortune. He eventually returned to the Valley and has become a local fixture, restaurateur, commercial pitchman, philanthropist, and occasional right-wing pundit.”
My comment, sent to New Times:
”I was under the impression that, originally, Alice Cooper was a band. And I doubt HE changed the name, without some input from the other 4 members of the band…WHO, LIKE ALICE, ARE ALL MEMBERS OF THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME.”
Medicine Ball Caravan – 1970
In 1972 John Grissim published a book entitled “We Have Come For Your Daughters: What Went Down On The Medicine Ball Caravan” which told the whole story (from his viewpoint) of the Caravan. It features one early photo of Alice backstage at the Washington show and a couple of pages describing the bands participation with the Washington show.
“…for it is at this point that Mike Forman [Warner Bros representative] finally manages to intimidate enough people into believing he’s running the show. To this end he is able to yank Stoneground off the stage on the grounds that the police have insisted the concert end at 9 P.M. sharp. This leaves barely enough time for Alice Cooper to set up and close the show. For a minute all is confusion, but eventually Stoneground reluctantly leaves the stage. [Tom] Donahue (One of the leading figures in the Caravan and on the Hippie Scene) is unable to stop the exodus in time. Somehow Forman has done the unthinkable — pulled the rug out from Big T. The man is livid.
For that matter so are the Alembic sound people [providers of the P.A. System, Famous for their work with the Grateful dead], not only because of Stoneground’s short set but because of Alice Cooper, a young man (real name, Vincent Furnier) who leads a rock group composed of what appears to be four amphetamine drag queens gone mad. Alice Cooper is not music but an insane theater act. A year ago the group performed in San Francisco on a bill with Iggie and the Stooges and the Flamin’ Groovies, two groups likewise notable for their excessive stage dramatics, destruction of instruments, microphones, loudspeakers, and anything else within range. Alembic had handled the PA for that concert and claims Alice Cooper broke three expensive microphones in the process. Now here it is Washington and Alembic is vowing to kick Alice off stage or, barring that, not record his performance.
The argument is heated and personal, but in the end the necessity of the moment produces a stalemate. Alice goes on stage and Alembic’s Bob Mathews angrily kills the power to the 16-track. His gesture has no impact on the audience, for Alice Cooper is far more visual than auditory. He appears before the microphone wearing a dress and a silk scarf which he dramatically removes to the beatless cacophony of half-acid rock, revealing a black body stocking beneath. His eyes are heavily etched with mascara, his hair long and straggly, his body deathly thin and grotesque. Here stands a gaunt-vindictive horribly anemic wicked witch straight out of ‘the Wizard of Oz’. He leaps about the stage, sneering, snapping and taunting his viewers, twirling a handmike, casting voodoo spells, spinning around like some speed freak dervish, and otherwise succeeding handily in keeping L’Enfant Square fascinated.
There’s method to his madness. Five years ago back in Phoenix, Arizona, Alice and the boys were known as the Spiders, a group that was going nowhere until it opted for a new look. “We took on the faggot image,” Alice says, “because it freaks out the parents the most. All we had to do was go into drag shops and buy all these cheap, incredibly glittery whorey things. It’s been great fun.” The ploy began to pay off almost immediately. Of course it helped that Alice adopted a few tricks to his act, like floating a weather balloon full at worms over the audience and popping it with a BB gun. or tearing apart crabs and fish and throwing the pieces to the crowd. In Chicago he once terrified the Kenetic Playground by toying with a giant boa constrictor that had just eaten rabbit. He once shaved several cats (his own he claims) from the waist down, spray painted them, and released them into the audience. One time in Vancouver, B.C., a naked girl ran onto the stage and was promptly incorporated into the act when the group covered her with shaving cream, added a bag of feathers and flagellated her with dead chickens.
There is a good deal more intelligence and humor to Alice Cooper than meets the eye on stage. And it seems fitting that the group should appear at a caravan concert, for its entire act is deliberately structured to distort the already distorted imagery of rock ‘n’ roll, to use the media for maximum shock value.
And at this moment Francois Reichenbach [The director filming the movie] loves it. In fact he’s ecstatic. As Alice vamps and swirls, Francois likewise weaves in unconscious counterpoint, shouting instructions to his crew, pointing, gesticulating, clasping his hands, and beaming with unalloyed delight. Alice begins his finale with an eerie hypnotic ritual, removing his necklace to swing an amulet back and forth, repeating, “Sleep. All bodies need sleep,” with the cracked voice of an old woman while the music takes on clockwork syncopation. The stage falls dark save for a single spot on the amulet.
The suspense builds in relative silence as Alice reaches down for a powerful hand-held spotlight. Suddenly he switches it on and beams it at his audience, screeching WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP! at the top of his voice. The music thunders into an endless crescendo. The drummer stands on his seat now, using his drumsticks like baseball bats to bash away at a set of giant cymbals. The stage is engulfed in a rainbow wash of flashing lights as Alice reaches for a large pillowcase full of chicken feathers and throws it out at the crowd. L’Enfant Square breaks into cheers and applause, rising to its feet as the flurry of feathers is carried back by the breeze to surround the chicken-feather flinger in a small blizzard. At this instant the crescendo reaches a crashing tonic chord that Alice punctuates by aiming a flare gun into the sky and launching a pyrotechnic rocket that explodes in a dazzling shower high over the square. That’s Alice Cooper—and at 9:40 P.M. that’s the show.”
From: “We Have Come For Your Daughters: What Went Down On The Medicine Ball Caravan” by John Grissim 1972.
Rolling Stone Magazine – April, 1980
An odd Alice quote
2014…………….upon the passing of Dick Wagner
“I first saw Dick Wagner while he was playing with The Frost and quickly filed him under Guitar players I’d like to steal. But Dick isn’t JUST a guitar player. He’s a gifted writer, ”’and I wrote most of the Alice Cooper Hits with him.'” – ALICE COOPER. (Really Alice? Really?)
[as Ed McMahon would say: “I did not know that!”]
Below is an article from the Akron Beacon Journal just two days after the show in Akron at the Rubber Bowl on August 5, 1972. Note the digs and innuendos used by the author who apparently did not care for the band
April 30, 1971. The band was playing a show in The Annex in St. Louis. Below is part of an article from that date found in the St. Louis Post Dispatch about that show. Amazingly, the writer thought Alice Cooper was a FOUR MEMBER band that was made up of Michael, Neal, Dennis, and Glen. NO ALICE!